Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks; Micah Sparks

Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks; Micah Sparks

Author:Nicholas Sparks; Micah Sparks
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: United States, Brothers, Voyages and Travels, 20th Century, Foreign Countries, Novelists, Essays & Travelogues, General, Literary, Family & Relationships, Personal Memoirs, Americans, Authors, Biography & Autobiography, Siblings, American, Travel, Biography
ISBN: 9780446532440
Publisher: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Published: 1980-01-02T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter 12

Angkor, Cambodia

February 4-5

The temples at Angkor, Cambodia-an area encompassing nearly 120 square miles-were built from A.D. 879 to 1191 when the Khmer empire was at its zenith. More than a hundred temples have been discovered, and they were once surrounded by cities, from which the kings of the empire ruled over a domain that covered a vast portion of Southeast Asia, including Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, southern China, and Cambodia. Their rule lasted nearly five hundred years, until 1432, when the Siamese (Thai) sacked Angkor, and the capital was moved south to Phnom Penh. Angkor never regained its former stature, and eventually drifted into obscurity as the jungle continued its never-ending encroachment.

In time, Angkor passed into legend-people who saw the ruins claimed they’d been built by the gods-and a few adventurous explorers from Europe circulated stories about the famous ruins among their peers. It wasn’t until 1860 that the French explorer Henri Mouhot brought Angkor back to the world’s attention.

The French were enchanted by the ruins and began an extensive restoration effort. Yet all that remained of Angkor were the temples themselves, which are regarded as one of mankind’s greatest architectural achievements. The cities, whose buildings were constructed of wood, had long since decayed and vanished into the surrounding jungle.

The vast majority of the temples in the Angkor region are Hindu in influence; the remainder are Buddhist. At the time of their construction, both belief systems were prevalent in the empire, and as rulers came and went-Buddhists replaced by Hindus, and vice versa-temples were constructed to reflect the changing times. Still, the architecture varied only slightly; most contained a temple-mountain-like structure in the center, surrounded by square or circular walls or platforms, and enclosed within either a moat or perimeter wall.

Angkor Wat, literally “City Temple,” is not only the largest temple in the Angkor complex, but the largest religious monument in existence. Constructed during the first half of the twelfth century by Suryavaram II, it’s regarded as the high point of Khmer architecture.

The carvings on the outer walls depict important scenes from Hindu literature, as well as events from the reign of Suryavarman II, in exacting, intricate detail. To study and fully understand the relief carvings-on walls twelve feet high and spanning over a kilometer in length-would take years. Entire books have been written on the subject of the carvings alone, and it’s far beyond the scope of this volume to even attempt to comment on them.

As they say, you must see it to believe it.

The flight to Cambodia was another seven hours, and I began to grasp what a feat traveling around the world really was. In the end, we would fly 36,000 miles and spend nearly three full days in the air.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I reached Cambodia. Though I’d traveled to Hong Kong and Korea for track competitions, I wasn’t prepared for the city of Phnom Penh when we landed. In a strange way, the land struck me as being both hopeful and tragic.


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